Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Unstuck by Jane Anne Staw, PhD

Unstuck: A Supportive and Practical Guide for Working Through Writer’s Block by Jane Anne Staw, PhD lives up to its ambitious title. Leaning on years of writing and counseling experience, Staw explains to the reader various causes for writing blocks. Each chapter also offers a short list of writing approaches to help facilitate moving through the block. Some of the exercises are obvious—free-write as a form of warming up the creative juices, try writing the same thing in a different form, write unsent letters to anyone who may have stifled your creativity in the past. There are other exercises that seem, on the surface, counter intuitive. For instance, after a writer comes to her unable to get any momentum on a dissertation, Staw encourages the writer to only write for fifteen minutes a day. How long would it take someone writing only a few paragraphs a day to finish a complete dissertation? The world may never know because, as a result of following this advice, the writer experiences small doses of success. As a result, the fifteen minutes soon grows into thirty minutes and eventually an hour. I haven’t read many books on writer’s block. It may be true to say that I’ve read none although memory being what it is, I may have and forgotten. However, after having read Staw’s Unstuck, I have no reason to look further than this book for help the next time I am feeling unable to write for whatever reason.

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